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Town Clerk Deb Dami on the Election Process in Mashpee

Town of Mashpee

Voter turnout across Massachusetts has been brisk so far this election cycle, as CAI has been reporting.

We've been checking in with Town Clerks in our region to hear how things are going. In Mashpee, Town Clerk Deb Dami says she's confident the voting process, whether by mail, early in-person or on election day, will be smooth for residents. 

CAI's Kathryn Eident talked with her about how she keeps things organized, and some of the things she's been hearing from voters.

Eident It's been widely reported that there's misinformation out there, and some voters are especially anxious this election season. Have you been hearing from Mashpee residents who are worried?

Dami Absolutely. And what generates it is something that happens on TV. And, next thing you know, we're getting besieged by phone calls, to the point where one woman called and told us she didn't want us to send her an early vote ballot, she wanted us to send her an absentee ballot. She heard on TV that early voting ballots were not being counted. Those are the things we're hearing. So, it's slowing us down because we're getting just hammered with phone calls.

Eident There's been some worry the ballot boxes aren't secure. Mashpee has one box, right? And it's at town hall?

Dami I was like, why reinvent the wheel? We have one right at town hall, and, it comes right into the building, and I'm the only one with a key. It's safest place. And, we check it multiple times a day.

They're also concerned about the post office. And in Mashpee, I'll tell you, I love the folks at the Mashpee post office. We sat down, we talked. We take our ballots and we pull all the out of towners, and they take the Mashpee voter ballots and they hand-cancel them and they keep them right in town and take them to the voters. Don't be afraid of the post office.

Eident Let's talk about in-person voting. How does that work when a resident arrives at town hall and is ready to cast a ballot?

Dami So, they'll check in, they'll get their envelope, sign their name, put in their street address, then go in and cast their ballot.

And then, we'll be here in the office scanning them in, and getting them filed away, so that if they do a "track my ballot", then they will see that their ballot has been entered and is ready to be counted and tracked.

Eident "Track My Ballot" is a new state website; it was set up by the Secretary of State, Bill Galvin, for voters to track the status of their ballot. So, once those in-person early ballots, and the mail- in ballots come in, do you count them right there, or do you wait to election night?

Dami You have the opportunity to start running your ballots through the machines prior to Election Day. You have to store them separately by day, and they have to be locked up in the vault. And, I still have some time, but we have been so busy. We're just--it's just do it on Election Day.

Eident When election night happens, do you think you'll have the results right then that night? Or, do you think it will take longer?

Dami I don't expect it to be a long night, no, because we're pretty organized and running the machines with the early voting ballots, that'll start at 8 o'clock on the 3rd. And then, when we're finished up the election floor, we'll bring everything down and we'll have those numbers, and we'll load them into the computer. Everything matches, and we're done.

Eident Talk a little more about the ballot counting process. How does that work?

Dami So, I'm keeping my early voting ballots down here at Town Hall, and we're setting up for workers to come in at 8:30 on the 3rd and start processing. I have one person that reads the name, one person that checks off the name, one person that opens the envelope. One person takes the ballot out of the envelope, and one person puts it into the machine. This way, nobody's really paying attention to who voted and how they voted.

Eident Volunteers are usually critical in helping at the polls. Do you have enough volunteers to help you through election night?

Dami I did lose quite a few people; they didn't want to be in the mainstream. But, we've seen a significant number of residents stepping up to the plate and asking to volunteer.

Eident And, this is highly unlikely, but if you were to get two ballots in somebody's name, so two ballots for one person, you have a process in place, right?

Dami If I get two ballots and both of them are for Deb Dami, we'll pull out the card and check the signature and we won't accept the ballot for one that the signature doesn't match. If we're unable to make that determination, I'll call a Registrars meeting and they would give me the final word. For the most part, the voters are very kind and they understand that we are doing the best we can.

Eident Well, thank you so much for explaining this. I know you're busy. Good luck.

Dami Bye now.

Kathryn Eident is an award-winning journalist and hosts WCAI's Morning Edition. She began producing stories for WCAI in 2008 as a Boston University graduate student reporting from the Statehouse. Since then, Kathryn’s work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times, Studio 360, Scientific American, and Cape and Plymouth Business Magazine.